Oct 19, 2017

The Top 5 Soccer Clubs in the World, 2017/18 Season, First Edition

This ranking has been updated! Whilst we appreciate you reading this entry, it's worth checking out the updated one too! Click here for the latest top 5.

Just in time for the weekend, our inaugural ranking edition for this season. It's obviously early days but here's an early look at how things are shaping up. Reminder that while scientific methods (wins, losses, ties, head-to-head competition, etc.) are used wherever possible, this ranking is by its very nature subjective. In other words, it is intended to inspire, rather than conclude any debate on this topic of what the best teams in the world might be right now. So comments and feedback are encouraged. Just don't expect us to like it. Just kidding, we welcome all of it. But here goes:

5. Real Madrid

Record in all competition: 7-1-3 (7 wins, 1 loss, 3 ties)
Notable results: Won at Dortmund (by 3-1, on Sept. 26), drew Tottenham Hotspur at home (1-1, Oct. 17)
Discussion: This was the toughest choice. Others warranting consideration were Chelsea, Napoli and Atletico Madrid. But all of those teams have lost against squads further up in this ranking (and in Chelsea's case, against Crystal Palace, which doomed any chances of their inclusion. Sorry you can't lose against Crystal Palace and make the list of top anything). While Napoli's one loss at Manchester City (more on them in a bit) is certainly forgivable, their listless performance was not. Neither is a loss at Shakthar Donetsk, though a victory over AS Roma and unbeaten, untied record in Serie A did bolster Napoli's case. Atletico lost at home to Chelsea and lacked a marquee victory (draws against Roma and Barcelona weren't enough in the end). That leaves Real Madrid. The 3-1 win at Dortmund was impressive and the draw against Tottenham was an early season highlight for both teams and neutral observers alike. (For more on that, see our write-up from the other day). We're more willing to forgive Real's one loss, a 1-0 defeat at home to Real Betis on Sept. 20, than Atletico's Champions League slip-up versus Chelsea.
The road ahead: The return leg at Tottenham is Nov. 1. Will Tottenham be able to duplicate their surprising performance from the Bernabeu and maybe even best Real, which would certainly knock them off of this ranking? Or will Real reassert themselves. The domestic league campaign has already left little margin for error, with the way Barcelona and second-placed Valencia have started to the season. The Madrid derby is Nov. 28. A trip to Athletic Bilbao looms Dec. 12. The superclasico clash against Barcelona on Dec. 20.

4. Manchester United

Record in all competition: 10-0-2
Notable results: Drew Liverpool at Anfield (0-0, Oct. 14)
Discussion: Jose Mourinho's side really haven't been tested. Their Champions League group is a bit of a joke, with CSKA Moscow, FC Basel and Benfica Lisbon. The two toughest challenges, away at Lisbon and Moscow, were already passed with ease. A 2-2 draw at Stoke City on Sept. 9 is the only blemish other than the boring scoreless draw at Anfield last week.
The road ahead: Host Spurs on Oct. 28. That's next weekend. Will Mourinho park the bus at home against one of Europe's most exciting teams? Probably, because Mourinho is a pussy. Visit Chelsea the weekend after that. Host Man City on Dec. 9, another opportunity to park the bus at home.

3. FC Barcelona

Record in all competition: 10-0-1
Notable results: Beat Juventus (3-0, Sept. 12). Drew at Atletico Madrid (1-1, Oct. 14)
Discussion: Were dominant in all but three matches. In the first, Barca came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat Getafe on Sept. 16. Then they needed a late own-goal to win at Sporting Lisbon on Sept. 27. The third resulted in the draw at Atletico Madrid. All other wins came by two goals or more.
The road ahead: Visit Athletic Bilbao a week from Saturday. The return leg against Juventus is Nov. 22, though that may not matter at that point.
The clash with Real Madrid is on Wednesday, Dec. 20. At the Bernabeu. Midweek. Should be fun.

2. Paris Saint Germain

Record in all competition: 11-0-1
Notable results: Beat Bayern Munich (3-0, Sept. 27)
Discussion: PSG are already bossing the French ligue as might be expected, though they somehow were held to a scoreless draw at home against Montpellier on Sept. 23. That's the only blemish in an otherwise impressive campaign so far. The Champions League hasn't been a challenge either. Bayern Munich have been a bit of a mess and already changed managers. Celtic and Anderlecht are several levels below PSG. So is just about anybody. It will take the elimination round of the Champions League for this team to be tested. We like them more than Barcelona so far.
The road ahead: Actually, the return leg at Bayern Munich which wraps up the UCL group stage is worth watching. Probably won't matter in the standings but could be a good test as Bayern look resurgent under Jupp Heynckes. That game is Dec. 5. Also visit Monaco, Nov. 25.

1. Manchester City

Record in all competition: 11-0-1
Notable results: Won at Chelsea (1-0, Sept. 30), beat Napoli (2-1, Oct. 17)
Discussion: The only blemish against Pep Guardiola's side is a 1-1 draw against Everton back on Aug. 21. August results really shouldn't count, nor should results against Liverpool clubs which is why we aren't mentioning a 5-0 drubbing of the Reds on Sept. 9. But this has been a truly impressive run of results by Man City.
The road ahead: It's mostly smooth sailing the next couple of weeks. They host Burnley this weekend. The return leg against Napoli is Nov. 1. The clash with Man United will be the one to watch, the second weekend in December.


  1. Fantastic analysis. I've been a fan since 2008 (still have some emails) so keep this coming. I share my friends immediately when this is released. Agree that City are the best around right now, I would give Napoli some high praise too. And although I'm a die-hard Red Devil; United don't deserve to be in this list yet until they face and pass a difficult test.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! United do deserve to be in the list but Napoli haven't really beaten anybody yet either! Will be interesting to see how things shake out though. Stay tuned...

    2. I'm curious to learn how you guys end up watching so much football? I presume you are US based but even I don't get time to watch Serie A and Ligue 1 being based out of UK. I watch PL and La Liga religiously so I've seen the quality of United versus the others and we aren't at that level. We are missing fluidity and only have 1 or 2 playmakers so have to improve drastically as evident from our performance and result yesterday.

      Regards Jase (London, UK)

    3. We watch as much as we can on ffwd if necessary